The Urethane Blog

BASF Chinese Interview

BASF: Innovation and Competences Create Value
2016-09-01    [Source:PUdaily]

PUdaily, Shanghai-BASF is the largest chemical producer in the world with portfolio organized into five segments: Chemicals, Performance Products, Functional Materials & Solutions, Agricultural Solutions and Oil & Gas. In 2015, BASF generated sales of more than €70 billion. The company is currently expanding its international activities with a particular focus on Asia.

PUdaily had an exclusive interview with Mr. Jui Seng TAY, Vice President, Business Management, Performance Materials Greater China, BASF 

T: Mr. Jui Seng TAY, Vice President, Business Management, Performance Materials Greater China, BASF

1. Mr. TAY, would you please briefly introduce BASF Performance Materials division, including business activities and segments?

T: BASF Performance Materials division encompasses the entire materials know-how of BASF regarding innovative, customized plastics under one roof. The division offers Engineering Plastics (PA, PBT, POM, composite materials) and polyurethanes (PU solutions, polyols and TPU). Beyond materials, we help customers develop, optimize and commercialize products faster, backed by our innovation centers, simulation and testing facilities.

For example, our proprietary simulation tool Ultrasim helps to select the optimal material for a specific part, as well as avoid pitfalls in tool design and production processes. This helps reduce the need for prototyping, lower developmental cost and shorten developmental time, which are significant competitive advantages for our customers.

Our design consultation center Designfabrik® is another enabling competency, creating new engines of growth for customers.

In addition, we are globally active in four major industry sectors, including transportation, construction, industrial applications and consumer goods. Performance materials division has a strong portfolio of products and services combined with a deep understanding of application-oriented system solutions.
For our customers in the four industries, this means working with a partner, who:

        – Is a reliable and dedicated solutions provider of high performance products, backed by strong technical and engineering competence

        – Understands their industry intimately

        – Provides tailor-made industry solutions

        – Enables them to have a competitive edge through superior innovations

In short, we help our customers to capitalize on growth industries and become more successful.

2. What’s BASF Performance Materials expectation on the whole business performance in this year, especially in Asian region? Which areas would be the bright points for global business in the future?

T: Asia accounts for 25% of global sales for us and it is still a growth region for Performance Materials, and it is significant for the division and its growth strategy.

We see that there are opportunities for growth in all industries. Plastics will further gain importance in the world of design across different industries. Based on their excellent properties, designers will more often prefer high-quality plastics over conventional materials. Today’s plastic products have beautiful visual and haptic features, which are on par with other materials in terms of both quality and value.

On a macro level, we expect to see steady demand improvement particularly in:

        – All areas related to global megatrends like urbanization and population increase, which translates to growing demand for better quality of life. Hence this will benefit demand for our sports & leisure applications.

        – Energy efficient and lightweight materials. This will continue to benefit joint development projects we have for lightweight construction in automotive. Last year for instance, we showcased the next generation lightweight concept car seat from SAIC and Shanghai Yanfeng Johnson Controls, which used BASF materials. It proved that our materials not only made the seats lighter, but also enhanced passenger comfort.

        – More regulation means that any business area connected to the environment protection will see potential.

3. What is BASF Performance Materials business strategy in APAC, what have you invested in APAC to address this potential?

T: We focus on speeding up our innovation activities to bring new products and solutions quicker into the market and to solve customer problems. This is because we are not just an innovative raw material supplier but a solutions provider and strategic partner that helps to shape the future with intelligent and innovative solutions. We grow above the market by continuing to successfully develop new applications for our customers, backed by our design, technical and engineering competences.

We have announced some recent investment, including:

Asia Composite Center in Yokohama, Japan, opened in April, 2015

        – Houses a manufacturing cell for part processing

        – Enables the development of innovative lightweight solutions faster and more efficiently 

        – Is able to demonstrate mass production of composite parts for automotive applications

Engineering Plastics product development laboratory in Ansan, South Korea

        – Facilitates the development of new applications, innovations and joint developments with customers

        – Announced at Yesan inauguration. To be opened in 2016

Designfabrik® Shanghai in Shanghai, China, opened in May 2016

        – Design aspects are playing an increasingly important role in the success of new products in the region, including color choice, material combination and material finish. The consultation center enables us to bring to life the creative ideas of the industrial design community for the benefit of customers
Collaboration with Chris Lefteri Design

        – To further showcase how we enable better product designs, we are working on design projects with Chris Lefteri Design.

4. As one of the leading raw material suppliers, how does BASF Performance Materials view the toxic school tracks incident that has been popularly discussed recently? What actions will BASF Performance Materials take in the future? Will there be new solutions from BASF?

T: it’s unfortunate to hear these incidents. For the new standard, BASF provided technical expertise on ensuring product control as part of the quality circle program. Both MDI and TDI based coating can produce good quality running tracks. With proper handling and strict quality control, both MDI and TDI can be used as raw materials to product good quality and safe running tracks.

As an active member in different polyurethane industry associations, BASF is committed to promote health and safety development of the industry along with relevant parties.

Since we launched the quality circle program in January, we had a series of successful collaboration with DBC. For example, we participated in the 5th Asia Educational Facility Design and Technology Summit. We also showcased our innovative running track solution using elastic TPU at the recent Chinaplas 2016.

The program includes additional partners i.e. Shanghai Research Institute of Building Sciences Group and Shanghai Chemical Building Materials Association.

5. China’s central authorities have released a pilot list for 16 so-called ‘sponge cities’ project, which is being launched to use the full potential of rain water. BASF Performance Materials has already participated in this project, would you please introduce some details?

T: Talking about “sponge cities,” we are going to talk about Elastopave®, which is a polyurethane binder system yielding air- and water-permeable surfaces.

It has been installed on Moganshan Road along the famous West Lake in Hangzhou, China where G20 Summit will be held in September. The project is a role model for the city to support G20 in implementing the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. As one of the municipal key projects for the city in 2016, the application helps Hangzhou transform itself into a “sponge city” and fulfil its goal to develop modern infrastructure in at least 20 percent of its urban areas by 2020 to prevent flooding from heavy rainfalls.

The new infrastructure based on Elastopave® boosts Hangzhou’s efforts to implement solutions for sustainable development prior to the G20 Summit and to prepare for the 2022 Asian Games. Like many other cities in China, Hangzhou is facing problems with waterlogging during heavy rainfall, which causes flooding and erosion of infrastructure facilities.

As we just talked, Elastopave® is a polyurethane binder which is mixed with gravel or stones. Compared to concrete or tar, the high proportion of large and small stone pieces creates interconnected cavities. This feature facilitates water-permeability of roads and public spaces, enabling it to absorb an estimated 4,000 liters of water per hour per square meter given suitably absorbent ground.

Elastopave® has further proven to lessen the urban heat island effect by reducing pavement surface temperature by as much as 10 degrees in summer.
In China, Elastopave® has already been used for roads and public spaces in many other provinces, including Fujian, Henan, Yunnan, Chongqing, and Guizhou.

6. What kind of competitive edges do BASF PU solutions enjoy globally compared with rivals?

T: Beyond supply, our best-in-class plants and proprietary technology also means for our customers:

        – Strict control and reliability of product quality

        – Minimization of downtime resulting from frequent changes in formulations

        – Operational efficiencies

We further help customers differentiate and gain a competitive advantage with our design, technical and engineering competence. Such enabling technologies and competences create value for our customers as it leads to the development of new products, applications and innovations. This in turn creates new engines of market growth for them.